a house in rainy weather

Guide to locating a Roof Leak

In this article a guide to locating a roof leak we look at causes and solutions. A leaking roof is no trifling matter. What may seem innocuous at the time might grow to become something that can endanger your entire household. It can lead to much more significant risks, such as compromising the whole integrity of your home. Yes, it is that important. Therefore, locating a roof leak before it can wreak havoc is critically important. The process involves running a water test, inspecting your roof vent pipe, the chimney, as well as searching for any leaks around skylights. But the absolute best thing that you can do is invest in some proper roof insulation. This will protect your home and make it much less prone to any leaks happening at all. It is always better to prevent these incidents from occurring in the first place, after all.

How to locate a roof leak?

If you are concerned that your roof might be leaking, here are the steps that will enable you to verify or refute your suspicions:

  • Water test
  • First stop – Roof vent pipe
  • Check roof air vents next
  • Search for leaks around the chimney
  • Leaks around skylights

These are the places that you should be looking at first. However, your home might have additional spots where roof leaks might occur, so you will need to check them as well. Once you are familiar with the pattern that we will be presenting here, you will quickly figure them out on your own.

Perform a water test

It may be difficult to spot any leaks if it is not raining outside. That is why the first thing that you may want to do when searching for any potential threats is to do a water test. You will need an extra pair of eyes for this one, so ask a family member or a friend to help you out. What you are going to do is position one of you in the attic and the other one will be outside with a garden hose in hand. Proceed to run the water from the hose all over the roof. The person doing the attic inspection might want to have a flashlight and even a small bucket if you expect a big leak.

You will want to generously soak the low of the roof (near the eaves) and work your way up. This will provide you with the greatest chance of locating the primary area of the leak. As soon as the person within the attic notices any water seeping in, have them immediately mark it and call the stop to the watering. After that, you can search for exterior issues. However, this is where you might want to involve professionals. Climbing on top of the roof can be quite dangerous.

Make the roof waterproof!

And speaking of hiring professionals, you might want to consider waterproofing your roof after the leak is located and repaired. It will provide you with the maximum protection available, preventing any further leaks from happening again. Waterproofing roofs is a generally good idea as it is a simple process that will not take much of your time nor will it break your bank, but it will provide your home with additional protection. It involves spraying liquid rubber over the surface of your roof, and it is incredibly effective in preventing leaks.


water test of locating a roof leak
Doing a water test should be your starting point


First stop when locating a roof leak – Roof vent pipe

But water testing is not the only thing that you can do. There are many “usual suspects” when it comes to roof leaks, and it is in your best interest to check them all out. One of the most common places where a leak can occur is the roof vent pipe. They penetrate the roof and are commonly used for plumbing and exhaust. These piles have flexible seals that “hug” them and prevent any water from coming in. However, they can erode with time and allow water to seep into your roof. This can be extremely hard to locate otherwise, as it may take some time for the effects to take place. You will want to look for any signs of material degradation and replace them if necessary.

Check roof air vents after

Typically, roof vents are made in a fashion to prevent any leaks from happening. However, the wind can sometimes cause the rain to go up the vent and end up in your attic. The vents themselves are also prone to damage by a variety of factors. You will need to check each one of them carefully. You may even need to replace the vents altogether. It is always best to save some of these vents for future analysis and as replaceable parts; it’s another waterproofing tip. If you don’t want to have them in your home, putting them in an external storage unit is always a good idea. However, before storing make sure they are protected from moisture. This will ensure that they are ready for use when the time comes.

Search for leaks around the chimney

The chimney is yet another area that is quite prone to leaks. But it is also the most problematic area to pinpoint the source of the leak. You will want to start at the top and check the chimney cap and the crown. Then look at the brick and the mortar cracks. Finally, you might want to check the flashing around the chimney, as flexible sealant might crack and form gaps over time. If you notice that the walls around the chimney are damp, you might want to consider investing in insulation products, as well. Applying insulation on your walls and the roof is just about the best protection you can get from a roof leak. It is always best to prevent it from occurring than repair the damage, after all.


houses with numerous chimneys
Chimneys can be elaborate and tricky to examine


Leaks around skylights

Lastly, if your attic has skylights, you will definitely want to make sure that there are no leaks there. This is, by far, the most common cause of any leaks, as the skylights literally penetrate the roof. Installing a skylight is a complicated process, with much room for error. Even if you had a top contractor doing it, you would want to inspect them for leaks regularly. However, do note that condensation can form on the inside of the glass, and try not to mistake it for a roof leak.


Skylight on a roof
Skylights are the number one cause of roof leaks


Contact roofing professionals to handle locating a roof leak and fixing the problem

Of course, the best way of locating a roof leak and dealing with it is to contact professionals who make it their job to find and deal with a roof leak. If you can’t easily access the attic or need to climb on the roof to inspect the chimney, the vents, or the skylights, hiring professional assistance might be the safest way of going about it. It costs but is the best solution you have at your disposal.